pretty much like Greg said.
Scan in a drawing, photo, logo, etc. Using the tool in the program, recreate the image. Use the scan as a template and essentially trace the image using any and all tool necessary.
One tip I've heard a lot of computer graphic artists give is to use a pen and tablet (like an intous). That way when you draw, it's more like drawing on a scratch pad then when you try to draw with a mouse.
Hopefully some of our graphics expert members can offer some more tips
I've been using Illustrator & Photoshop for over 10 years and there are still things I don't know. It's not something you can learn in a day ... it just takes practice and patience.
You can download 30-day free trials from Adobe to see how you like the software before you plop down big bucks.
BTW I just upgraded to Illustrator CS2 and there is a new "live trace" command that is awesome and in itself worth the money to upgrade, IMO. You can import a photo or tight sketch and it will turn it into a smooth vector file.
I also have an Intous but don't use it that much ... but mostly because my illustrations are more graphic in nature vs loose artistic ones. But it's a great tool to have.
You might want to check around for local junior colleges, trade schools or continuing education programs who offer basic Photoshop and Illustrator classes. For me it's much easier to have someone show me how to do something versus reading a manual.
illustrator--you're right, CS2 is amazing--and photoshop are my faves. and i've worked with a lot of art programs.
i used an intuos for a while when i made the jump from traditional to computer-based art, but soon got use to the mouse as just another drawing tool. in fact, using a mouse is probably an easier curve than learning the software.
good luck with everything.
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